Leftover Salmon returns

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— Earlier this fall, thousands of hippies in dreadlocks, preppy Front Range college students and an assortment of out-of-towners waited outside the Fillmore in Denver to watch Leftover Salmon.

It was a little reminiscent of a Grateful Dead show. People held up their fingers in hopes to find tickets, while others banged profusely on their handheld drums praying to the gods a ticket would fly their way.

Inside was a different scene altogether.

The scent of sweat and patchouli oil filled the air in the Fillmore. People wiggled their bodies like dogs shaking after a wet bath as the band played.

But the band's banjo player, Mark Vann, could only sense the crowd through a telephone line by his hospital bed. Vann was diagnosed with melanoma cancer in the fall the worst thing to happen to the band in the 11 years the group has been together.

Leftover is Vince Herman on guitar and vocals, Drew Emmitt on vocals and mandolin, Vann on banjo, water phone and rubber fish, Bill McKay on Hammond organ, piano and vocals, Greg Garrison on bass and Jose Martinez on drums.

When Leftover Salmon travels to Steamboat Springs for a two-day show, Matt Flinner will fill in for Vann on the banjo.

Vann's bandmates are hopeful the new year will bring a speedy recovery and allow Vann to return to the stage with the group.

"The best thing is that the tumors are staying the same and treatment will start slowing down," Herman said. "Mark is absorbing a lot of positive with all of this. It's important for him to keep his attitude up."

Herman said Vann will reduce his cancer treatments to once a month starting in January.

In the meantime, Leftover Salmon has reduced its schedule to five or six shows a month.

The band has recorded four albums "Bridges to Bert," "Ask the Fish," "Euphoria" and the "Nashville Sessions."

The band recorded material for a Leftover Salmon and Friends record more than a month ago during shows on the Front Range. Herman said the band still needs to go through the recordings to pick and choose the best to put on a new album. Herman said he hopes to release a new CD in March.

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